Ex-warden at Mississippi prison gets 2 years for beating inmate when he was a guard

Published 7:00 am Saturday, September 3, 2022

A former deputy warden at the Mississippi State Penitentiary has been sentenced to two years in prison for beating an inmate in 2016, when he was a K-9 officer, federal prosecutors said Friday.

Melvin Hilson, 50, pleaded guilty in May to violating the civil rights of an inmate identified only by the initials J.T.

Prosecutors dropped charges accusing Hilson of filing a false report and witness tampering, online court records show.

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“This defendant violently assaulted the victim, and violated the trust that we place in corrections officials to lawfully carry out their duties,” Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division said in a news release.

Senior Judge Michael P. Mills sentenced Hilson on Thursday, ordering him to turn himself in on Nov. 7 and to spend three years on supervised release after leaving prison, online court records show.

The indictment said Hilson repeatedly knocked J.T. to the ground, pulled him up and then knocked him down again.

The beating caused a ruptured eardrum, abrasions to the man’s ear and neck and prolonged headaches, the news release said.

According to court documents and statements made in court, J.T., was “in a caged area inside of the medical unit” waiting for medical attention, according to the news release. “Hilson approached J.T. and struck him several times, knowing that there was no reason to use force and that J.T. did not pose any threat to himself or others.”

The maximum sentence for violating someone’s civil rights is 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and up to three years of supervised release. The other two charges each carried up to 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release.